Even during the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were still hiring and interviews were still happening. In most cases, these are taking place in entirely new ways through new channels. Regardless of whether you are actively or passively looking, here is what you should do now to position your job search for success during the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:
1. STAY CALM AND PERSIST
First and foremost, put your health and safety first – always. Take a minute to do what you need to do to become and stay calm. Meaning that you should listen to the recommendations of government and health officials, exercise, eat healthy, call your family members, check on elderly neighbors, and do anything else that helps you to work through this uncertain time.
Amidst all of this, take 10 minutes today to create structure in your day so that you set aside time for your job search. Meaning, make room for your job search in this daily schedule but DO NOT make it your full time job. If you do, you will simply position yourself for burnout, anxiety, and all the other bad things that can follow with fixating on things you can’t control. Instead, set a time goal for each day (yes, even weekends if you can). That time goal should be realistic for your life and, in most circumstances, should absolutely not exceed 2 hours per day.
Consider the following to help keep that daily schedule a reality as the Great Shutdown continues:
Keep consistent. Block the time off on your calendar and treat your job search like a meeting or any other appointment. This will help to keep the time free so that you can sit down and focus on what you need to do.
Set a timer. Force yourself to stay on schedule and not to be an overachiever. Set an alarm on your phone, a reminder on your smart home device, etc. so that you know when to start and stop your job search efforts.
Don’t try to make up time. Much like a fitness routine, you probably can’t cram a week of job search into the weekends. Instead, simply move forward with your plan.
Celebrate small victories. Small steps add up in times like this. Take the time to celebrate, share, and reflect on those milestones – no matter how small.
Stay resilient. No one is perfect. Don’t look at missing a day (or 14) in your job search as a failure. Instead, pick yourself up and get right back on track as soon as you can.
2. BUILD YOUR MESSAGE
Working from home or not working right now? Use this time to focus and build an effective message for your search. Crafting this message starts with a simple question – “Why hire me?” That question is also probably one of the hardest ones to answer, but it is ultimately the key to landing your next job (whether by choice or circumstance).
In fact, building your message around this core question will help you to stand out amidst the sea of people that are looking for a new job right now (and those that will likely follow). Those with the strongest consistent message on their resume, online, and in their interview will likely land on their feet the fastest. Here is how to start creating a winning message to make yourself pop in the wave of applicants:
Words on the page matter most. You can’t land an interview if you don’t have the information important to the application on your resume and on your online profile. Start by making sure that all the relevant details are clearly laid out.
Adapt your message. Your resume should not be a historical report of your experience. Instead, you will need to adapt that message to the specific jobs that you are pursuing. This will show attention to detail, genuine interest, and clarity in why you are a good fit for the needs of the employer.
Focus on the relevant details. Remove any jargon or overly technical phrases from your resume immediately. Instead, build your resume around the transferable skills and results that will resonate with the potential employer.
Emphasize your achievements. The best way to stand-out is to make it easy for the person that will skim your resume (on average, you have 6 seconds before that person makes their decision) to see how you are different. Do that by adding numbers to your results and clearly articulating what they were in a way that anyone can understand what you achieved. It’s not bragging if you are factually laying out the information on your resume.
Remember the ATS. Most employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan, sort, and manage the applications of candidates for their open jobs. There are currently over 900 ATS commercially available across the globe and countless more proprietary or customized systems in use by employers. These are all driven by keywords and job titles. As a result, on average, over 75% of all applications are automatically rejected or otherwise fall into the black hole never to be seen by a person. To avoid this unfortunate fate, make sure to incorporate the right keywords and details to show on the paper that you are qualified for the role.
For more, read Part II of How to Search for a Job in the Midst of a Pandemic.